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Bruce Talamon: Behind the scenes photos capture the music explosion of the 1970s

Talamon documented a visual period in black music that lasted way past the midnight hour and will never come again

Thursday 30 August 2018 10:23
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Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at California's Hollywood Bowl
Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin at California's Hollywood Bowl

Bruce W Talamon saw it all during the golden age of soul, R&B, and funk. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, this young African American photographer from Los Angeles found himself backstage with an all-access pass to the heart of the music scene.

He caught his first big break landing a position as a staff photographer at SOUL Newspaper in LA in the early 1970s, just as soul, R&B, and funk were becoming part of the mainstream.

He captured the rehearsals and sound checks, recording sessions and costume fittings, the quiet reflective moments and life on the road – and, of course, the wild photo shoots and memorable performances. These photographs define an era famed for its glamour, fabulous fashions, and utter devotion to the groove.

The extensive Talamon archives exudes the infectious spirit of an exuberant age. Featuring artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Parliament-Funkadelic, Al Green, Gil Scott-Heron, James Brown, Barry White, Rick James, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson Five, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan and many others – this book also makes several stops at the legendary Soul Train studios.

Talamon documented a visual period in black music that lasted way past the midnight hour and will never come again.

The photographer

Los Angeles-born Bruce W Talamon (1949) has been a fixture in the film industry as a stills photographer for 39 years, after a prolific career capturing R&B royalty in the electrifying 1970s. His photographs were used as key poster art in numerous ad campaigns for all the major Hollywood studios. He is also the author of Bob Marley: Spirit Dancer.

You can purchase ‘Bruce W Talamon. Soul. R&B. Funk. Photographs 1972–1982​’, published by Taschen, here

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